by Karina Manukyan
Armenian Culture Minister Hasmik Poghosyan has come out for construction of a cafe near the pagan temple of Garni.
"Why not if the construction of the cafe does not imply damaging the cultural layer?" said Poghosyan at today's press conference. "No bad project will become a reality", she said.
Earlier Vladimir Poghosyan, Head of the Service for the Protection of Historic Environment and Historical and Cultural Museum-Reserve, said that no construction would be launched and that only chairs and tables would be put there. The cafe's menu will be consisted of fruit, vegetables and home-made gata. The profit will be spent on maintenance of the temple of Garni. Poghosyan assured that the pilot project aims to boost tourism in Armenia.
In late 2013 "Sargis Tkhruni" Youth and Student Union of the Social-Democrat Hunchakyan Party came out against that project. "The practice shows that the "small cafes for the tourists turn into big restaurants. The temple of Garni should remain untouched and shouldn't serve the interests of certain officials", they said.
The Temple of Garni is a first century Hellenic temple near Garni, Armenia. It is the only pagan temple in Armenia that survived the Christianization of the country in 301 AD. Several constructions and buildings have been identified within the enclosed area, including a two-storey royal summer palace, a bath complex, a church built in AD 897, a cemetery and the site's most famous and best preserved edifice, a peristyle Greco-roman temple built in the Ionic order. Of particular interest is the bathhouse located in the northern part of the site. It as a well preserved hypocaust and one of its floors is decorated with a mosaic reproducing a well known late Hellenistic iconographic type. It bore depictions of Greek mythological figures and personifications, such as Tethys, Oceanus, Thetis.